To his credit, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini managed to subvert his obvious postgame rage after last December's Big 12 championship game as he dismissed questions concerning the decisive second officials restored to the clock, enabling Texas to kick a game-winning field goal and clinch a spot in the BCS title game. Locker-room ranting aside, the moment passed mostly without controversy — which doesn't mean, of course, that 'Husker athletic director Tom Osborne will hesitate to give Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe a little reminder at this week's conference meetings in Kansas City:
"I’m sure [Beebe] will have some things to say," Osborne said. "We'll probably get an officiating report on football and basketball. I imagine we may have some discussion as to how you start or stop the clock on an incomplete pass."
(That could be a very short conversation.) But seriously, folks, there will be no shortage of contention in K.C. over more pressing matters, namely: a) A pending deal to keep the Big 12 title game in Jerry Jones' 25th Century Dallas space palace through 2013, to the exclusion of more frigid sites (i.e. Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City) in the North Division; and, more importantly, b) Beebe's alleged ultimatum to members thought to be in the crosshairs of Big Ten and/or Pac-10 expansion plans (i.e. Nebraska and Missouri, as well as Colorado and possibly Texas) to determine "who's on the plane and who's not."
The conference begins ever-crucial television negotiations next year ("which looks like it's going to be a highly profitable situation for us," according to Beebe), possibly in alliance with the Pac-10. But the commish can't sit down at a bargaining table with lingering uncertainty in the air, real or perceived: "We can't allow it [conference expansion rumors] to continue on, in my judgment."
The long-simmering tensions the expansion threat has brought to the surface — especially where the league's contentious revenue-sharing plan is concerned — could make for an interesting "Come to Jesus" moment behind closed doors. It doesn't help that Texas, the anchor of the conference and only program that effectively guarantees its status as a national player no matter what else happens, is sounding somewhat aloof in its own right. (Tom Osborne, for one, has never been the biggest Texophile, anyway.) If the membership comes together and still fails to emerge making more unified, conciliatory noises, a disputed second on the game clock will be the least on Beebe's mind.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.